Exactly one year ago, I saw Dr. Jane Goodall speak in San Francisco.
She was dressed simply, in black pants and a large printed scarf, with her hair pulled back in a ponytail. She was beautiful.
When she entered the room, she was given a standing ovation. Her response?
“I’m just me.”
I was awestruck. At first I thought, “THAT is what I what I want to look like when I’m in my 80s.”
But I realized it was the beauty of her spirit that I was drawn to. It filled the room. She had spent her life doing what she loved, and she was passionate about her calling. She almost glowed.
This started a shift in my perspective about aging.
I turned 40 this week. I’ve been looking forward to this birthday for many years. To me, 40 represented a milestone in life experience. At 40, I had hoped that I would have my sh*t together. Ha! But I can say that I’ve never felt so comfortable in my own skin. You couldn’t pay me to go back and live through my 20s.
So here’s what has been bugging me.
Why is it so much easier to agonize about our muffin top, our necks, our spider veins…than worrying about who we ARE?
Because the more I think about it, the more I realize what a fantastic waste of energy it is to obsess about our looks. What if we took all of the emotional energy we spend thinking about our outsides, and used that to worry about our insides?
Here’s my challenge to you…
Before you spend a single minute worrying about the way you look, ask yourself this:
- Am I putting good fuel into my body? (yup, that’s part of your insides)
- Am I giving my body sufficient rest? (lack of sleep shows up in our insides first…think: lack of resilience, decreased brain function, etc.)
- Am I moving my body regularly so it can be strong & agile?
- Am I clear on what’s important to me?
- Am I clear on what makes me happy?
- Am I clear on what is important to the people I love?
- Am I being faithful to my callings?
Spend time worrying about these things. Because the world benefits from you taking good care of yourself. The world benefits from you being a happy person. The world benefits from you pursuing your callings.
The world does not benefit from your forehead being smooth. The world does not benefit from you losing 5 pounds.
Yes, it is still important to take pride in how we look. I believe this is part of self care. But when we start to pick apart various parts of our body and invest hours of mental energy in wishing it was different…I can’t justify it. I’ve got important work to do.
So back to Dr. Jane Goodall and her important work.
I have asked myself several times over the past year:
“Would Dr. Jane Goodall be worried about her muffin top, or would she be spending that energy on making a difference for those around her?”
Maybe she sometimes does. But a woman who exudes that kind of energy and beauty in a room of hundreds does not do so by being self-absorbed. She took time to choose a well-put together outfit. She took time to do her hair and put on a bit of makeup. And then she turned her focus to the important stuff.
So this is the attitude I take into my 40s:
I will take care of my body with delicious healthy food, good rest, and keeping strong.
I will hold myself accountable to my values, my inner circle, my passions and my callings.
I will always care about dressing in a manner that I feel confident (my current uniform: loose sleeveless top, cardigan/jacket, and skinny ankle-length pants…accessorize with a scarf and cute, comfortable shoes…done!).
If I start obsessing about the way my neck is aging, I will force myself to “obsess” over the tougher things: How can I be a better wife/friend/sister/ daughter/aunt? …How can I move closer to my calling? …How am I making a difference in this world?
Because I’m pretty sure when I’m 80, I’m going to think it was worth the mental effort.
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